Emerging Models: MySpace and Music Promotion

The New Yorker on MySpace as a music promotion platform: Full Exposurepdf

In the wake of Nash’s album, several articles about the “MySpace generation” of young British female singer-songwriters have appeared in the national press. Among the musicians frequently mentioned are Nash, Allen, the unbearable neo-soul singer Adele, the appealing rock songwriter Remi Nicole, and Amy Macdonald, a graduate of the Bono School of Unbridled Earnestness. Like most trend pieces, these articles identify a genuine surge—in this case, an uptick in the number of young talented women making music in Britain—but overstate its meaning. Whether or not these women were discovered on MySpace doesn’t change how their music is reaching the world: their recordings are released on major labels, and they are conducting the usual rounds of music- and beauty-magazine interviews. However, compared with the great female musicians who made their mark in the nineteen-nineties—PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Liz Phair, Courtney Love—these women are less political, less aggressive, and, so far, less inspired. Perhaps MySpace is partly to blame. Internet exposure seems to have become an acceptable substitute for experience, and many artists are getting signed before they’ve played a live show, mastered the art of songwriting, or found their voice. The promotion of young talent has always been a central activity of the music business, but now, on Web portals like MySpace, which encourage the complete documentation of one’s life in constantly updated photographs, video clips, and blog posts, amateurs are growing up in public. (In a blog post last year, Allen wrote that she felt “fat, ugly and shitter than Winehouse” and was “researching gastric bypass surgery.”) If such exposure doesn’t kill these young women, it could produce a very hardy breed of pop star.